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Created by Steven Bochco
David Milch
Starring See: Main cast
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 12
No. of episodes 261 (list of episodes)
Running time 47–49 minutes
Production company(s) Steven Bochco Productions
20th Television (1993–1995)
20th Century Fox Television (1995–2005)
Distributor 20th Television
Original network ABC
Picture format
  • 4:3 (1993–2001)
  • 16:9 (2001–2005)
Audio format Stereo
Dolby Digital 4.0 (1993–1995 DVD)
Original release September 21, 1993 (1993-09-21) – March 1, 2005 (2005-03-01)
Related shows Brooklyn South
Public Morals
The Practice
External links
[{{#property:P856}} Website]

NYPD Blue is an American police procedural drama television series set in New York City, exploring the struggles of the fictional 15th Precinct of Manhattan.[1] Each episode typically intertwined several plots involving an ensemble cast.

The show was created by Steven Bochco and David Milch and was inspired by Milch's relationship with Bill Clark, a former member of the New York City Police Department who eventually became one of the show's producers. The series was originally broadcast on the ABC network, debuted on September 21, 1993‚ and aired its final episode on March 1, 2005. It remains ABC's longest-running primetime one-hour drama series.[citation needed]

NYPD Blue was met with critical acclaim, praised for its grittiness and realistic portrayal of the cast's personal and professional lives, though the show garnered controversy for its depiction of nudity and alcoholism. In 1997, "True Confessions" (Season 1, Episode 4), written by Art Monterastelli and directed by Charles Haid, was ranked #36 on TV Guide's 100 Greatest Episodes of All Time.[2] In 2009, TV Guide ranked "Hearts and Souls" (Season 6, Episode 5), Jimmy Smits' final episode written by Steven Bochco, David Milch, Bill Clark, and Nicholas Wootton and directed by Paris Barclay, #30 on TV Guide's 100 Greatest Episodes of All Time.

Main cast

Cast list

Character Actor Position Seasons
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
John Kelly David Caruso Detective Main
Andy Sipowicz Dennis Franz Detective/Sergeant Main
Arthur Fancy James McDaniel Lieutenant/Captain Main
Laura Michaels Sherry Stringfield A.D.A. Main
Janice Licalsi Amy Brenneman Detective Main
James Martinez Nicholas Turturro Detective/Sergeant Main
Bobby Simone Jimmy Smits Detective Main Guest
Sylvia Costas Sharon Lawrence A.D.A. Recurring Main Recurring Main
Greg Medavoy Gordon Clapp Detective Recurring Main
Donna Abandando Gail O'Grady P.A.A. Recurring Main Guest
Adrienne Lesniak Justine Miceli Detective Recurring Main
Diane Russell Kim Delaney Recurring Main Recurring
Jill Kirkendall Andrea Thompson Recurring Main
Danny Sorenson Rick Schroder Main
John Irvin Bill Brochtrup P.A.A. Recurring Recurring Main
Baldwin Jones Henry Simmons Detective Main
Valerie Haywood Garcelle Beauvais A.D.A. Main
Tony Rodriguez Esai Morales Lieutenant Main
Connie McDowell Charlotte Ross Detective Main
John Clark, Jr. Mark-Paul Gosselaar Detective Main
Rita Ortiz Jacqueline Obradors Main
Eddie Gibson John F. O'Donohue Sergeant Recurring Guest Main
Laura Murphy Bonnie Somerville Detective Main
Thomas Bale Currie Graham Lieutenant Main

Production and crew

Produced by 20th Century Fox and Steven Bochco Productions, film production primarily took place in the greater Los Angeles area. The show did film in New York but only for exterior shots that used New York landmarks. In the final season the show was filmed only in Los Angeles to save money.[3]

The show was initially a vehicle for David Caruso.[citation needed] John Kelly was the main character and the first season revolved around him and his professional and personal lives (promo shots for the show depicted Caruso in the foreground and other first-season characters set off behind him). Season 2 saw the departure of John Kelly, and with his departure, the show was built around an ensemble cast. Dennis Franz, as Andy Sipowicz, a veteran New York City Police detective, evolved into the show's lead character, taking more and more of a mentorship role as the series progressed. His co-stars included (Season 2 and beyond) Jimmy Smits as Det. Bobby Simone (1994–1998), Rick Schroder as Det. Danny Sorenson (1998–2001) and Mark-Paul Gosselaar as Det. John Clark, Jr. (2001–2005).


Season 1

File:NYPD Blue cast 1993 season 1.jpg
Original cast (from left): Caruso, Franz, Stringfield, McDaniel, Turturro, and Brenneman

John Kelly and Andy Sipowicz are detectives in the 15th squad. Sipowicz is the elder partner but is an alcoholic who drinks on the job as well as off-duty, and his behavior causes doubt that the partnership will last much longer. Kelly has a genuine affection for his partner, but becomes increasingly exasperated by Sipowicz's behavior. In addition to his alcoholism, Sipowicz is a deeply negative, misogynist, homophobic, bigot. In the pilot, Sipowicz is shot by a suspect that he had attacked and humiliated earlier. This leads to his decision to sober up and save his job.

While his partner is recuperating, the squad's Lieutenant, Arthur Fancy, teams Kelly with a young cop from Anti-Crime, James Martinez. Kelly's personal life is no less frenetic. He is reluctantly going through a divorce from his wife, Laura, and is embarking on an affair with a uniformed cop, Janice Licalsi. To complicate matters further, Licalsi's police officer father is on the payroll of mob boss Angelo Marino. Licalsi, in an attempt to protect her father, has been ordered to do a 'hit' on Kelly. Instead, Licalsi murders Marino and the repercussions come back to haunt both her and Kelly.

Sipowicz, meanwhile, sobers up and begins a relationship with ADA Sylvia Costas while the other detective in the squad, Greg Medavoy, a married man, embarks on an affair with the squad's new administrative aide, Donna Abandando.

Season 2

Licalsi is found guilty of the manslaughter of Marino and his driver and is given a two-year sentence. Because of his involvement with Licalsi, and the widely held belief that he withheld evidence that could have given her a longer sentence, Kelly is transferred out of the 15th and chooses to leave the department altogether. He is replaced by Bobby Simone, a widower whose previous job was that of driver for the Police Commissioner. This does not sit well with Sipowicz, but after learning that Simone took the assignment in order to be present for his wife, who was suffering from cancer, he learns to accept his new partner and build a strong friendship with him. As his relationship with Sylvia leads to marriage, he even asks Simone to be his best man.

After an affair with a journalist who he suspects has used information that he disclosed to her after an intimate moment to boost her career, Simone begins a relationship with another new member of the squad, Diane Russell. Sipowicz, as a recovering alcoholic, recognizes from Russell's behavior that she also has a drinking problem and, after much prompting, she herself goes to Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). On another storyline, due to his low self-esteem and disbelief that a woman like Donna could love him, Medavoy's relationship with her breaks down, due in no small part to Donna's visiting sister.

Season 3

Main cast of Season 3

At the beginning of the season Sylvia becomes pregnant with Andy's child. A baby boy, Theo, is born towards the end of the season. This is contrasted with the fate that awaits Sipowicz's older son, Andy Jr., who announces that he plans to join the police force after being discharged from the Air Force due to an injury. Andy is finally bonding with his long-estranged son when he is gunned down trying to help people in a bar holdup. This causes the elder Sipowicz to fall off the wagon. Andy Jr.'s murderers are killed themselves by Simone in an act of "self-defense", but in reality is an act of vengeance that Simone swore to Sipowicz.

Bobby and Diane, who had placed their relationship on hold while she attended AA, resume seeing each other only for Diane to begin drinking again when her abusive father beats her mother. Her father is eventually killed and her mother becomes the prime suspect.

James Martinez and new detective Adrienne Lesniak begin an affair, but only after Lesniak tells Medavoy (Martinez's partner and the squad gossip) that she is gay, because the last relationship she had with a fellow cop ended disastrously. But after James is shot, recovers, and returns to work, and they get to know each other, she admits that the story she told Medavoy was a lie. Martinez later breaks up with her due to her controlling and unpleasant behavior, and Lesniak eventually leaves the squad. Medavoy himself leaves his wife, recognizing that she is holding him back, but it is too late to save his relationship with Donna, who leaves to take a job with Apple in California.

Seasons 4–5

File:NYPD-Blue-season 6.jpg
Main cast at the beginning of Season 7 of NYPD Blue, l-r Thompson, Delaney, Brochtrup, Franz, Turturro, Schroder, McDaniel, Clapp

During the next two seasons, there are a few minor cast changes: Donna is replaced by several PAA's, most notably by Gina Colon, played by Lourdes Benedicto, a character who eventually marries Martinez and is written out; and Det. Jill Kirkendall, played by Andrea Thompson is partnered up with Russell. Sipowicz's battle with prostate cancer and the up-and-down Simone/Russell relationship, which includes Russell's revelation that she had been sexually abused by her father, are prominent storylines. Also during this time, Franz would win four Emmy Awards, and both Delaney and Clapp would each win an Emmy for supporting roles.

Seasons 6–8

Season 6 becomes a major turning point in the history of the series, as Smits decides not to renew his contract and leaves the show. In episode 5 "Heart and Souls" Simone passes away due to his enlarged heart, shortly after marrying Russell in a civil ceremony, and a subsequent gram infection caused by complications of a heart transplant. Smits was replaced by Rick Schroder as Det. Danny Sorenson. Also during Season 6, two other critical incidents occur: the heroin overdose death of PAA Dolores Mayo (played by Lola Glaudini), and the shocking death of Costas, gunned down at the courthouse trial of the suspect accused in Mayo's death by her distraught father. Costas's final words, "Take care of the baby," to Sipowicz leads to his initial withdrawal from the squad. Yet, his keen perceptiveness allows him to gain a confession from the accused suspect, who tried to buy his way out of trouble. Furthermore, Sipowicz reaches a level of understanding with PAA John Irvin (portrayed by Bill Brochtrup), whose homosexuality had been a stumbling block for Sipowicz in their interactions to that point.

The next two seasons see the continuation of the Sipowicz/Sorenson relationship (in whom Sipowicz sees a resemblance to his late son), along with more changes in the squad: departing during this time were Kirkendall (due to her unknowing involvement in her ex-husband's dirty dealings), Martinez (following his Sergeant promotion), Fancy as squad leader (through a promotion to Captain), and even Russell herself (for a leave of absence to grieve the loss of Simone). Arriving to replace them would be Det. Baldwin Jones, played by Henry Simmons, Det. Connie McDowell played by Charlotte Ross, and Lt. Tony Rodriguez, played by Esai Morales. Also arriving in the eighth season was new full-time ADA Valerie Haywood, played by Garcelle Beauvais-Nilon. At the end of Season 8, Sorenson is approached by the owners of a strip club to work for them providing information. Still reeling from his brief affair with Diane Russell and her abrupt end to it, he accepts the offer. After reporting to Lt. Rodriguez, Sorenson goes undercover, but then turns up missing after a stripper he was seeing turns up dead in his apartment (but not by his doing). The Sorenson character would be written out at the start of Season 9 at the request of Schroder, who wanted to spend more time with his family in Montana.

File:NYPD Blue (cast photo - season 11).jpg
L–R, The cast of NYPD Blue at the beginning of season 11: Clapp, Gosselaar, Obradors, Beauvais-Nilon, Franz, Simmons, Ross, Brochtrup, Morales

Seasons 9–12

The fourth and final phase of the show would take place over the final four seasons. In addition to the 'Sorenson missing' storyline, Season 9 would also initially tie-in with the September 11 terrorist attacks. A suspect trades immunity for a robbery and shooting in exchange for information on a buried rug in Brooklyn that turns out to include Sorenson's dead body. Filling the void as partner for Sipowicz, who is finally awarded his promotion to Detective First Class, which Simone had been given several years before, for a case they had both worked (but due to Sipowicz' negative history with the Department was withheld) is newly promoted Det. John Clark, played by Mark-Paul Gosselaar. As with Simone and Sorenson, there is initial tension between Clark and Sipowicz, largely due to an old feud from years earlier involving Sipowicz and Clark's father, John Clark Sr. (played in guest spots by Joe Spano). Season 9 also sees the introduction of Det. Rita Ortiz played by Jacqueline Obradors.

The remaining four years would see a continuing focus on Sipowicz as the main character, as had been the case since Simone's death. Another unlikely romance would develop between Sipowicz and McDowell. This came about due to her ability to stand up to Sipowicz's gruffness, and her tender relationship with Theo (played by Austin Majors). They would eventually marry, and after adopting McDowell's sister's baby daughter (following the sister's murder by her husband, Connie's brother-in-law), they would have a child of their own as well. The McDowell character would eventually become an off-screen character in the final two seasons, due to issues between Ross and show executives. Other departures and arrivals: Rodriguez would be written out following a dispute with an IAB captain who shot him in a drunken rage; replacing him initially as head of the squad was Sgt. Eddie Gibson, played by former actual NYPD officer John F. O'Donohue, who had previously served in the squad both on night watch and briefly on the "day tour"; Haywood, after failing to convict Rodriguez's shooter, would appear in fewer episodes and then leave at the end of the eleventh season; Gibson would be replaced at the start of Season 12 by Lt. Thomas Bale, played by Currie Graham; and replacing McDowell was Det. Laura Murphy, played by Bonnie Somerville. The final few episodes involve the impending retirement of Det. Medavoy, and Sipowicz's promotion to Sergeant, and later assuming command over the 15th.


The series included greater nudity than was common on broadcast television, which prompted Rev. Donald Wildmon and his American Family Association (AFA) to call it a "soft-core porn" series and take out full page ads in major newspapers, asking viewers to boycott the show. 57 of ABC's 225 affiliates preempted the first episode, mostly in smaller markets comprising 10–15% of potential viewers, forcing the network to recruit independent stations or Fox affiliates to air the first season in a few cases. The show's ratings success led most affiliates (and advertisers) to end their opposition. By the end of the first season the show was a Top 20 hit and protests by the AFA were countered by support from Viewers For Quality Television.

In 2005, L. Brent Bozell III told Time that the nudity on the series influenced him to establish the Parents Television Council, in which he served as president from 1995 to 2006.[4] The PTC has directly criticized several episodes of the show for perceived vulgarity[5][6][7] and filed complaint with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) over the use of obscene language in several episodes aired in early 2003, at the last half of the tenth season of the show,[8] associating the series with a perceived increase in profanity[9] and violence[10] on prime-time television from the late 1990s to early 2000s. The FCC ruled that the language in the episodes was indecent but decided not to fine ABC because the episodes aired before a 2004 ruling that obscenities would lead to an automatic fine.[11] However, on January 25, 2008, the FCC fined ABC $1.4 million for the episode "Nude Awakening" that aired on February 25, 2003, due to scenes of "adult sexual nudity".[12] The fine was ultimately rejected by the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit on January 6, 2011.[13]

According to NYPD Blue: A Final Tribute, a retrospective broadcast on the same night as the last episode, the controversy was not limited to what was on the screen. David Milch, the show's co-creator and head writer, was a controversial figure on the set during the seven years he was with the show. His working style and tendency to procrastinate or make last-minute, on-set changes contributed to a frustrating working environment for some of the cast and crew. Smits left the show when his contract ended because of it, as did Andrea Thompson. Milch cites his own alcoholism and other addictions as factors contributing to the difficult environment.[14] In spite of the controversy, Milch is usually credited as a major creative force during the years he worked on the show; he won two Emmy Awards for his writing, shared another as executive producer, and shared in a further ten nominations for his writing and production.[citation needed]

The final episode

The show's 261st and final episode, "Moving Day", aired on March 1, 2005, bringing an end to the show's 12-year run. The final episode depicted just another day on the job, with Sipowicz as the new squad room leader. In the final scene, previous squad leader Lieutenant Bale wishes Sipowicz good luck with his new position, looks around his old office and says "It's yours." After all the detectives come in, one by one, to wish Sipowicz goodnight, the last to say goodbye is John Clark with "Good night, Boss." Sipowicz surveys his new office, puts his reading glasses on, and begins to go through the paper work on his desk. The camera then moves out through the 15th precinct squad room and out the door. The final shot is the squad room sign over the door.

Awards and nominations

Nielsen ratings

Season Premiere Finale Episodes Timeslot Rank Viewers
(in households)
Season 1 September 21, 1993 May 17, 1994 22 Tuesday 10:00 pm #18 13.0
Season 2 October 11, 1994 May 23, 1995 22 #7 15.7
Season 3 October 24, 1995 May 21, 1996 22 #10 13.5
Season 4 October 15, 1996 May 20, 1997 22 #13 12.1
Season 5 September 9, 1997 May 19, 1998 22 #17 10.5
Season 6 October 20, 1998 May 25, 1999 22 #12 10.4
Season 7 January 11, 2000 May 23, 2000 22 #17 15.5
Season 8 January 9, 2001 May 22, 2001 20 #23 16.2
Season 9 November 6, 2001 May 21, 2002 23 Tuesday 9:00 pm #31 12.3
Season 10 September 24, 2002 May 20, 2003 22 Tuesday 10:00 pm #34 11.3
Season 11 September 23, 2003 May 11, 2004 22 #51 9.9
Season 12 September 21, 2004 March 1, 2005 20 #42 10.1

Critical reception

NYPD Blue has generally received rave reviews from leading television critics.[17][18][19][20]Variety even went as far as to say that broadcast television had lost its edge after NYPD Blue was cancelled.[21] In 2013, TV Guide the series #44 on its list of the 60 best television shows of all time[22] and complex.com ranked it as the eighth best television drama of all time.[23]

DVD releases

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment released the first 4 seasons of NYPD Blue on DVD in Regions 1, 2 and 4. All of the sets contain the original master recordings, the original ABC broadcasts, and custom-made credits. After the release of the fourth season in 2006, Fox announced that they would be reviewing the possibility of further releases, citing the lack of sales.[citation needed]

On October 3, 2013, it was announced that Shout! Factory had acquired the rights to seasons 5-8 in Region 1. They also obtained the rights to two other Bochco properties, Hill Street Blues and L. A. Law. They have subsequently released seasons 5-8 on DVD.[24][25][26][27] Season 9 will be released on April 5, 2016.[28]

In Region 2, Mediumrare acquired the rights to release the remaining eight seasons of the show on DVD in the United Kingdom. All seasons have now been released.

DVD Name Ep # DVD Release dates Extra features
Region 1 Region 2 (UK) Region 4
The Complete 1st Season 22 March 18, 2003[29] May 19, 2003[30] June 17, 2003[31]
  • Audio commentary on one episode on each disc
  • "The Making Of Season 1" featurette
  • "Love On NYPD Blue" featurette
  • "Cast Blotter" featurette
  • Script-to-screen comparison
  • Cast/Crew Biographies
The Complete 2nd Season 22 August 19, 2003[32] October 6, 2003[33] February 17, 2004[34]
  • Audio Commentaries
  • "Season Two: A Season of Change" featurette
  • "Wedding Bell Blues" featurette
  • The Music of Mike Post featurette
  • Script to Screen Comparisons: "Sipowicz Meets Simone", "Sylvia Meets Simone" & "Simone and Sipowicz Bond"
The Complete 3rd Season 22 February 21, 2006[35] April 17, 2006[36] May 29, 2006[37]
  • Audio Commentary on three episodes
  • Season Three Overview
  • "The 15th Precinct" Featurette
  • "Fathers and Sons" Featurette
  • "Women of NYPD Blue" Featurette
The Complete 4th Season 22 June 20, 2006[38] August 14, 2006[39] August 21, 2006[40]
  • Audio Commentaries
  • "Through the Lens: The Look of Blue" featurette
  • "In With the New" featurette
The Complete 5th Season 22 January 21, 2014[41] December 10, 2012[42] N/A
The Complete 6th Season 22 June 24, 2014[43] December 10, 2012[44] N/A
The Complete 7th Season 22 September 30, 2014[45] February 25, 2013[46] N/A
The Complete 8th Season 20 January 13, 2015[47] February 25, 2013[48] N/A
The Complete 9th Season 23 April 5, 2016 March 25, 2013[49] N/A
The Complete 10th Season 22 N/A April 1, 2013[50] N/A
The Complete 11th Season 22 N/A April 29, 2013[51] N/A
The Complete 12th Season 20 N/A April 29, 2013[52] N/A


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External links